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- The Iphigenia in Tauris - 13/17 -


Indeed, I think thou hat'st me not.

IPHIGENIA. And thou meanwhile, here at the temple, wait, O King, and ...

THOAS. Wait for what?

IPHIGENIA. Purge all the shrine with fire.

THOAS. 'Twill all be clean before you come again.

IPHIGENIA. And while the strangers pass thee close, seeking the sea ...

THOAS. What wouldst thou then?

IPHIGENIA. Put darkness on thine eyes.

THOAS. Mine eyes might drink the evil of their crime?

IPHIGENIA.

And, should I seem to stay too long ...

THOAS. Too long? How shall I judge the time?

IPHIGENIA. Be not dismayed.

THOAS. Perform thy rite all duly. We have time to spare.

IPHIGENIA. And God but grant this cleansing end as I desire!

THOAS. I join thy prayer.

IPHIGENIA. The door doth open! See, they lead the strangers from the cell within, And raiment holy and young lambs, whose blood shall shrive the blood of Sin. And, lo, the light of sacred fires, and things of secret power, arrayed By mine own hand to cleanse aright the strangers, to cleanse Leto's Maid.

[she takes up the image again.]

There passeth here a holy thing: begone, I charge ye, from the road, O whoso by these sacred gates may dwell, hand-consecrate to God, What man hath marriage in his heart, what woman goeth great with child, Begone and tremble from this road: fly swiftly, lest ye be defiled.--

O Queen and Virgin, Leto-born, have pity! Let me cleanse this stain, And pray to thee where pray I would: a clean house shall be thine again, And we at last win happiness.--Behold, I speak but as I dare; The rest ... Oh, God is wise, and thou, my Mistress, thou canst read my prayer.

[The procession passes out, THOAS and the bystanders veiled; Attendants in front, then IPHIGENIA with the Image, then veiled Soldiers, then ORESTES and PYLADES bound, the bonds held by other veiled Soldiers following them. THOAS goes into the Temple.]

CHORUS. [STROPHE.] Oh, fair the fruits of Leto blow: A Virgin, one, with joyous bow, And one a Lord of flashing locks, Wise in the harp, Apollo: She bore them amid Delian rocks, Hid in a fruited hollow.

But forth she fared from that low reef, Sea-cradle of her joy and grief. A crag she knew more near the skies And lit with wilder water, That leaps with joy of Dionyse: There brought she son and daughter.

And there, behold, an ancient Snake, Wine-eyed, bronze-gleaming in the brake Of deep-leaved laurel, ruled the dell, Sent by old Earth from under Strange caves to guard her oracle-- A thing of fear and wonder.

Thou, Phoebus, still a new-born thing, Meet in thy mother's arms to lie, Didst kill the Snake and crown thee king, In Pytho's land of prophecy: Thine was the tripod and the chair Of golden truth; and throned there, Hard by the streams of Castaly, Beneath the untrodden portal Of Earth's mid stone there flows from thee Wisdom for all things mortal.

[ANTISTROPHE.]

He slew the Snake; he cast, men say, Themis, the child of Earth, away From Pytho and her hallowed stream; Then Earth, in dark derision, Brought forth the Peoples of the Dream And all the tribes of Vision.

And men besought them; and from deep Confused underworlds of sleep They showed blind things that erst had been And are and yet shall follow So did avenge that old Earth Queen Her child's wrong on Apollo.

Then swiftly flew that conquering one To Zeus on high, and round the throne Twining a small indignant hand, Prayed him to send redeeming To Pytho from that troublous band Sprung from the darks of dreaming.

Zeus laughed to see the babe, I trow, So swift to claim his golden rite; He laughed and bowed his head, in vow To still those voices of the night. And so from out the eyes of men That dark dream-truth was lost again; And Phoebus, throneed where the throng Prays at the golden portal, Again doth shed in sunlit song Hope unto all things mortal.

[enter a MESSENGER, running.]

MESSENGER. Ho, watchers of the fane! Ho, altar-guard, Where is King Thoas gone? Undo the barred Portals, and call the King! The King I seek.

LEADER. What tidings--if unbidden I may speak?

MESSENGER. The strangers both are gone, and we beguiled, By some dark plot of Agamemnon's child: Fled from the land! And on a barque of Greece They bear the heaven-sent shape of Artemis.

LEADER. Thy tale is past belief.--Go, swiftly on, And find the King. He is but newly gone.

MESSENGER. Where went he? He must know of what has passed!

LEADER. I know not where he went. But follow fast And seek him. Thou wilt light on him ere long.

MESSENGER. See there! The treason of a woman's tongue! Ye all are in the plot, I warrant ye!

LEADER. Thy words are mad! What are the men to me? ... Go to the palace, go!

MESSENGER (seeing the great knocker on the temple door.) I will not stir Till word be come by this good messenger If Thoas be within these gates or no.--

[thundering at the door.]

Ho, loose the portals! Ye within! What ho! Open, and tell our master one doth stand Without here, with strange evil in his hand.

[enter THAOS from the temple.]


The Iphigenia in Tauris - 13/17

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